Today, after walking to work in the heat, working at work with no AC, and walking home, I stripped down to undies and laid in bed downwind of the fan for a couple hours. It was amazing. I put on clothes so I can make dinner and walk around in my (very exposed to the outside world) living area. I can’t wait to be done eating so I can go hang out naked again.
We did indeed go to Reduta on Tuesday. I loved hanging out that night, and in particular I had a lot of laughs with Zack. I probably had way too much to drink— Sam called me “compromised” the next day. However, the jazz didn’t intrigue me greatly. The band played original pieces and didn’t improvise. It was not something I loved, but Katie did, so that’s good.
The rain started Wednesday. Sam supposed he would have a “sabbath” but I wasn’t that worn out yet. Katie and I happened upon the tea place previously recommended to us, so the two of us and Sam and Zack went in and had a substantial amount of tea. I believe it is called Dobra Čajovna. The really big story of Wednesday, however, was our trip to the Charleston pub to meet my “cousin,” Hana Gomolakova, who lives and works here in Prague. She gave us a lot of information and advice, but I feel like we, as a group, were also able to make friends with her. She was quite likable, anyhow. We also went back to Reduta that night, as New Orleans jazz was playing, and that’s what Zack really wanted to hear. The lead singer looked like a Czech Earnest Hemingway, which is right up Zack’s alley too.
Thursday started with a trip to the mall to get some supplies. I don’t relish going to the mall with most guys, much less my brothers-in-law. Sam gets anxious there, and it was funny when he got a beer at the food court and subsequently relaxed. Katie had decided this would be her “meditation” day, so she left to get tea by herself.
I had decided I would go on a photo-taking walk by myself at Letna park. The closer I got to leaving, I felt more in the mood for company. In fact, I kind of hoped I could get Zack and Sam to come along. They didn’t take much convincing once I said the word “biergarten” — they came right along. Due to rain, the biergarten was closed, but we still found a spot to have beer. Our walk after this was mostly quite relaxing, except for Zack’s pace. I have to admit: I love hanging out with him, but hate walking with him! Thankfully Sam is much more considerate of my smaller legs. Our walk turned into a bit of a hike, at one point, which I actually liked, but I was wearing basically the worst shoes possible for that (this side of flip-flops).
Last night, we went to the Blues Sklep again, this time with Joe, but he left a bit early with the still zenned-out (and quiet) Katie. We heard a couple amazing guitar solos that night.
Today has been… interesting. Let’s keep it short by saying that Katie and I got the wrong metro fare and were fined for it. She and I have been indulging in comforts since that happened— primarily, the company of the guys and some beer. I am so thankful for them.
I am so excited that to morrow, I get to wear my new dress!
“But for a brilliant surgical team and two centimeters of a miracle, this guy is dead right now - from bullets fired from a gun bought legally. They bought guns. They loaded them. They drove from Wheeling to Rosslyn, and until they pulled the trigger, they had yet to commit a crime. I am so off-the-charts tired of the gun lobby tossing around words like ‘personal freedom’ and nobody calling them on it. This is not about personal freedom, and it certainly has nothing to do with public safety. It’s just that some people like guns.”—Sam Seaborn, The West Wing (2x04)
The USDA requires that if you sell chicken wing shaped objects that are not 100% wing meat, you have to call them “wyngz” instead of “wings”. We should push for an FCC restriction that if you intend to falsify, editorialize, or otherwise distort the news, you have to call it “Nuwz” instead.
Monday was a day of rest, at least for Katie and me. It turned out that the stress of the walk and a bad night’s sleep caught up with my recurring back issues. I hobbled to the corner pizza place and then to the nearby mall with Katie. It was a very boring day.
The night time produced one of my favorite Prague experiences so far, though. We kept talking about jazz or blues clubs, but every day we were too worn out to consider going. After a full day of taking it easy, we wound up at a blues club called Blues Sklep. In a downstairs cellar, we were inundated with the sounds of an amazing guitarist.
Katie was least impressed of us, being more a fan of jazz than of blues. Don’t get me wrong, I love jazz… But I found this performance much more appealing. We had a bit of a debate about it, and I realized the reason blues is so amazing to me is its raw sexuality. It’s not about sadness or necessarily about the hopefulness, though those are often basic song topics; it is about makin’ love! Anyhow, I drank 1.5 liters of beer and found myself in an amazing mood, never wanting to forget the night. And so, here are some more things I loved about it that don’t really fit into full sentences or ideas for me yet:
Low, arched ceilings
A sooty furnace with old useless chairs stacked inside
Low lighting contrasting with the dancing smoke
Arguing with Zack
Jiving with Sam on the music
Trying the tiniest of sips of absinthe
Stumbling home, wondering what I’ve been doing with my life not visiting more blues clubs. We are definitely going back!
Today was a bit low key, though I had hoped it would be more exciting. After a large English breakfast at Cafe Imperial, and then a failed attempt to visit a national gallery/museum, we made our way to the Salvador Dali/Alphonse Mucha exhibition in the Old Town Square. While the others were more interested in Dali, I have really been wanting to visit the Mucha gallery. His paintings and drawings of beautiful women as representations of seasons, months, wines, and much more, really appeal to my sense of what is beautiful about turn-of-the-century art and Bohemian culture. I bought myself a bag and a couple postcards for sending to friends- and to tell the truth, I want more Mucha! These paintings inspire such a sense of feminine, dreamy beauty, but all the women also look like real women, not some fantasy visages.
Tonight we are (hopefully) visiting the popular jazz club, Reduta. Sam is out buying tickets.
We have kept so busy that I haven’t had more than a few minutes each night before bed to write. Friday was mostly very lovely. We started out making our way through Josefov, the Jewish quarter. On the way, we saw very ritzy designer stores, and we nearly missed the beginning of the Josefov, as the art-nouveau-inspired synagogue on the corner blended in with the very ritzy stuff.
We then made our way across the Vltava River and in to Hradčany, the castle district. We told Joe we would save the castle for when he could join us, so we stuck to the grounds on the edge of it. There was a lovely cafe on terraced gardens, which we stopped at for the view, as much as for the refreshment.
The night prior, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released in Europe, before it was released in the U.S. I had wanted to see it opening night, but Zack told me that if Joe and I didn’t go Thursday, everyone would join us in going Friday. I didn’t believe him, but he grudgingly followed through Friday night. I loved the movie, but I felt grumpily afterward, for the fact that I didn’t see it with my best friend, Mandy, and that my cohorts were something of a hostile crowd to fangirl around. I think I made the right choice in not joining them in discussing it. The truth seem to be that they liked it too, but I have seen them pick on each other for loving their passions, and that very fact is what made me grumpiest.
Saturday, our first day when we could all go out together, was our best day yet. We got started late, as Joe needed a good sleep-in. We were headed to Letná park by 10am. Letná is a lovely green area mounted above the city (a mild climb wasn’t so bad) and over the first bend in the river. We came across dogs running free and a rather large contingent of skateboarders hanging around the largest metronome I’ve ever seen. This city really seems to have a rhythm motif, if not a musical one. I’d say rhythm, though, because they are also big on their clocks. This giant, magenta metronome keeps time slowly by human standards, but in the long run of this ancient city, I am sure it is running at an allegro.
After the park, we finally got to Prague Castle. The real attraction of the palace, at least to me, is the cathedral at the top. It is very much a typical gothic cathedral, full of flying buttresses and stained glass windows. They were the most dazzling stained glass windows I’ve ever seen- such minutely, differently colored small pieces coming together to make such intricate works of are practically unheard of in throughly modern America.
Beyond the castle proper, we made our way to the Wallenstein gardens, which just happens to be the grand entrance to the Czech parliament’s Senate building. They were beautiful, though maybe a bit disappointing. Lunch was satisfied by popping in on the French Bastille Day festival going on next to the Charles Bridge. Our feast consisted of French meats, cheeses, wine, cider, and bread. Yum!
All feeling a bit sluggish, we went to a really wonderful little pub and cafe, called Dobre Traficka. Sam mentioned that our waitress was attractive, so Joe and I have been teasing him a bit to ask her on a date. The cafe stop didn’t really cure our exhaustion, though. As a result, on our way up to the Petrín park, we all laid down in an unkempt cherry orchard for a rest. Once antics there were finished (Joe taking too many pictures and then finding a frog on my backside), we tromped up to the highest point in the park.
Now, we had all had enough. The little cantina on the way down didn’t brighten our spirits, and we decided to head home. We were still quite a ways out, though, and the sun going down made it a bit miserable. After our relieving arrival at home, I did the math, and it appears we walked at least 8.5 miles!
Sunday was a bit less fun. We spent the majority of our day at the zoo, which I did love, but it was overbearingly hot as the day wore on. At the end of our little zoo trip, Zack said he wanted to take the train home, and Katie and I agreed. Then Joe said he wanted to walk, and suddenly, Zack changed his tune. He became adamant that we walk too, playing as though he’d never said anything to the contrary. Sure enough, we walked because we didn’t go to the hassle of having change to buy metro tickets. This could have been remedied, but Joe and Zack pressed on through the sun and heat, reveling that we were in less scenic parts of Prague. I laugh about it now, but it was pretty miserable, and I got a new sunburn out of it.
Yesterday was very eventful. Zack joined us in Prague, rounding out our Peterson complement here in Europe. After getting off the plane, he professed to have no jetlag, so we immediately got to touring about. First, we got small meals at hospodě U Petra (that’s the name of our new favorite pub), and we started in on the beer. Over the course of the day, there would be around five pub stops. Each beer here comes in a half liter, and Sam and Zack ended the day on 5 total liters— at least 10 mugs’ worth.
We decided not to cross over to the Mala Strana (castle side of town), and instead made a huge circuit around Old Town and Nove Mesto’s north portion. I really enjoyed seeing more of the Prague where people actually live.
Today has been wonderful! I got up early to meet Sam and Katie at the airport. My dry run yesterday proved helpful in getting me there on time, but their flight was delayed. Every train and bus, unlike yesterday, was completely full today! Also, as a result of a rainy forecast, it was humid and I had worn rain-proof clothing. Therefore it was quite hot and sticky today— and it never rained while the sun was up.
However, Sam and Katie were ready for some full-on tourism, despite jetlag. So after a rinse-off and new clothing, we went out on the town in broad daylight. It was very warm and sticky (as I said), and we started off with beer at the corner pub, which I now love. We decided our order today would be beer-bridge-beer. Beer #1 was achieved alongside my first Cuban cigarillos. And I felt very European sitting on a streetcorner in the shade of a church tower. Our next stop was Charles Bridge, also known as Karlův most.
First though, we walked throuhg Old Town and the basic tourist districts. It was really pleasing to hear Sam revel in how different it is here, and how cool the new stuff was. It brought a new level of appreciation to tourism. We stopped in a “bohemian” clothing shop where the complimented my skirt, and we enjoyed gelato cones as well.
The Bridge was now old hat to me, and I didn’t see anything new. We saw a riverside biergarten and pursued it, as part of our beer-bridge-beer plan. It turned out to be a bit too expensive, but a beautiful, breezy spot to cool off. Afterward, we strolled up to Mala Strana and explored old buildings. We saw the Lennon Wall and accidentally stumbled into a piano masterclass conservatory.
Sam started crashing, so we clumsily made our way to the Malastranka metro station, and then back home. Again- standing room only- poor Sam. When we got home, we let Sam sleep, and Joe showed up. Joe, Katie, and I went down to Starbucks and then a grocer. When we got back, we ate some dinner and hung out until ready to go out to the corner pub for more liquid bread.
The best part of our evening was hanging out at the pub- which I don’t even know the name of still! Due to limited seating outside, we were forced to drink inside. (We had the same waiter as our last 2 visits, so I am inclined to make good friends with him.) Sure enough, the forecasted rain finally showed up! And in severe fashion, as well. We had a really perfect storm—
Thunder and lightning
Did I mention RAIN?!
Honestly, I felt a bit guilty enjoying so much rain. It rained so hard, we were stuck inside. Now we are home and the other 3 are asleep. I still hear the pianist down the street. More adventures tomorrow!
When we first got to Prague yesterday, I was very tired. To the point of crying grumpiness! So after a brief outing to get water, Joe and I crashed. Feeling a lot better once rested — 24 hours of air travel took its toll on us — we went out for a tromp around Old Town and the river. Although I struggled with my now-typical back pains, it was worth it to explore the cobblestone streets. The sunset glowed gloriously on shining, yet grimy, art nouveau-era buildings catered to tourism. There were restaurants and pubs designed to meet the needs of the diverse tourist population intermingling small shops boasting absinthe or free concerts in churches. Our ultimate goal was the Charles Bridge (Karluv most), whose waters glittered beneath, where young tourists stood on surfboards and older ones enjoyed tour boats.
We walked over the famed bridge, glancing briefly at street artists’ wares and pretending not to see the beggars bent over double, holding an empty hat or can. We briefly rubbed the statue with a dog carved on the side near the bottom, which appeared to be good luck. While on the bridge, we spotted restaurants on the river banks, and I decided that was what I wanted for my first meal in Prague.
We shared a meal and had two beers each. We tipsily wrapped up dinner and strolled back. On our way, we hit the bridge again, from which we watched a fireworks show, and we also ended up in a really great mall near our apartment, unable to wait any longer for a bathroom.
Today I calmly adventured solo while Joe was at work, learning how to use the public transit system. Tomorrow, Sam and Katie join us!
Here I am. We made it. I am currently in transit to the airport via subway and bus. I will wax more poetical once I am in a less wobbly locale. For now, some travel notes—
Kolej Petrská —> aiport
Florenc —> Muzeum (Dalek walls!)
Muzeum —> Dejvická
C (green line) to the end
Bus #119 to airport
I bought a 3-day transferrable ticket and validated it July 12 (Wednesday) around 2:30PM. I left at 2:40PM from Florenc. I got to the airport at ~3:30PM.
Should have taken B-line — one stop less.
This was before our travel companions showed up and Joe was already at work studying at Charles University. I was on my own and worried about meeting up with the others on time at the airport, so I planned every minute detail. Thankfully, as soon as our travel companions showed up, I ditched all this meticulous planning.
July/August 2011 was a pretty big deal for me. We had just moved north, then got evacuated due to the Las Conchas fire, and then we lived in Prague for a month. So today I’m going to start sharing with you a month or so’s pictures and memories of where I was one year ago.